Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Running From Trends


It’s time for What’s Up Wednesday again. If you’re unfamiliar with the idea, here’s the deal: What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk for like-minded writers to meet and encourage one another. Everything you ever wanted to know about it (now, 50 percent off the retail price!) is right here.

WHAT I’M READING
Last week, Karen Akins’s debut novel, Loop, released. I fell in love with this book when it was still a baby, and I’m so excited it’s now out in the world. Expect a humorous voice, time travel that actually makes sense, and an adorable time-crossed romance between the main character and a former dork. Akins does well in setting up the parameters of time travel, setting some pretty strict rules, then intricately shows readers she knows what she’s doing.


I’m also waiting for my copy of Blue Lily, Lily Blue to arrive (I ordered a signed copy from Fountain Bookstore, which ships out of state). When I get my hands on that puppy I plan to disappear into the story. How I’ve missed those Raven Boys…

WHAT I’M WRITING
I’ve talked some about the YA fantasy I spent eons world-building and brainstorming and then writing. As of now, though, that’s on hold. It’s not just that a new idea plowed me over and begged to be written. (Though that happened.)

It has more to do with the fact that fantasy seems to be on the cusp of being the next big trend in YA lit. And, I know, plenty of people would write the fantasy because of the trend. But I’m querying a YA sci-fi right now when agents are feeling sci-fi fatigue, so I really, really don’t want to write a fantasy novel and run into the same problem.

The good news: I love my new idea. It’s YA magical realism about a group of teens who search for a treasure. I’m thinking of it as a cross between Goonies and Stand by Me, and while there’s a treasure hunt, it’s really about friendship. Obviously there’s kissing, too.

WHAT’S WORKS FOR ME
Listening to songs that have the same tone as my story is incredibly helpful to my brainstorming process. And when I find a song that perfectly encapsulates the mood of my story, it’s a major light-bulb moment for me.

If I had to put my story into a single song, it’d be 10,000 Maniacs’ “These Are the Days.” There’s this sense of anything-can-happen and being on the cusp of something really great that I hope to create in my novel.

I don’t intend for the story to be as positive as this song throughout the entire book, but I think a lot of what I want to do is give the reader the same edge-of-amazing feeling that this song does.

Here, have a totally cheesy ’90s music video. You may want to shut your eyes, though. That horrid sight might take away from the song.


WHAT ELSE IS NEW
Remember that wrist pain I mentioned a few months ago? Well, I’ve been in and out of the doctor, getting X-rays and MRIs and exams to figure out why typing is suddenly torture. And he’s the frustrating thing: According to my workups, there’s nothing wrong.

So, yeah, it’s good to know I don’t need surgery and don’t have carpal tunnel syndrome or wrist cysts or anything else. But I’m also frustrated that I have no idea what’s causing the pain, why, or how to treat it. For now, it appears I need to give my wrists a rest when they start hurting and taking time away from the computer.

What’s up with you?

Monday, October 27, 2014

The 777 Challenge


ART BY ANTONIO MORA—A MAJOR INSPIRATION FOR MY WIP

There’s this thing going around the writerly section of the Internet, a thing called the 777 Challenge. When Katy Upperman tagged me, I was mostly excited that:

A) I got to read her fantastic writing (seriously, check it out), and
B) I wasn’t asked to participate in the 666 Challenge, which sounds like a hellish assignment. Ha.*

Here’s the deal: The challenged writer (that would be me) must share seven lines of her work in progress, seven lines down the page on the seventh page.

I’m sort of cheating here. I haven’t quite written seven pages of my new WIP, a YA magical realism story that’s something like Goonies meets Stand by Me. So these lines are seven lines down on the last page I’ve written.

Also, a giant, neon-bright disclaimer: This excerpt is from a very, very rough draft. Rough as in not yet finished and never been edited. If you see a typo or crap writing, just shut your eyes and pretend it never happened, ’kay?

Dry, wrinkled fingers tighten around my wrist. “Are you seeing this, Ruby?” 
I lift my sunglasses and blink back the bright. The ocean is almost silver in the afternoon light, as if the sun has leeched color from the sea. A pointy finger pushes my cheek, and my head jerks to the left. 
“What a babe.” Her eyes follow Gabriel Nash in all his crisp-polo glory as he pushes the giant lawn mower with an almost innocent unawareness that other people, people like me, might struggle with the same task only to come away sweaty, wrinkled, and covered in grass clippings. “I always trust a man in a pair of pressed khaki slacks.” She slurps her milkshake then shoots me a serious look. “I bet he’s a very tidy kisser.” 
“Doris!” I should mention that Doris Lansing is one hundred and four years old.

And now I’m going to tag all of you. I love reading excerpts from writers’ WIPs, so I’m hoping you take the challenge!

* It’s okay to roll your eyes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Hello, Strangers



Hello, and yes I do still live here. It’s been so long since I blogged and I miss you all dearly, like Katniss* missed her impoverished district while inside the arena. Only you’re a lot nicer and funnier than that dystopian landscape and also your hair looks very pretty today.

Okay, so I’m back and jumping into What’s Up Wednesday again. If you’re unfamiliar with the idea, here’s the deal: What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk for like-minded writers to meet and encourage one another. Everything you ever wanted to know about it (now, 50 percent off the retail price!) is right here.

WHAT I’M READING
Yesterday was a glorious day for books. I pretty much want to call in sick for the rest of the week and do nothing but read and read and read. Also, eat. But I’m a 21st-century woman. I can do both if I want to. I haven’t started all of these, but here’s what’s on my radar:

CLICK COVER FOR GOODREADS DESCRIPTION

But I hate leaving you without a good book recommendation, so here it goes. The reason I’m psyched to read Ashes to Ashes is because I gobbled up the first two books in Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian’s series, Burn for Burn and Fire With Fire. I held off reading these for a long time, but the first book is available for free on Pulse It (for the time being), and I’m so glad I gave it a try.

The books are compulsively readable and hard not to speed through. There’s a hint of the paranormal that threw me a bit in this otherwise contemporary setting, but it kind of works. What I read for, though, is the revenge. The three main characters—they take turns narrating—are determined and sometimes unlikable, but I have to admire how they stand up for themselves. I can’t wait to see where the third book takes the story, especially since the girl I only mildly disliked in books one and two is now someone I can’t stand.

WHAT I’M WRITING
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer drafting her first chapter must be in want of a knife. With which to end her misery.

Okay, I’m being dramatic, but for me writing chapter one is a lot like taking a sharp knife to my inessential organs (are there inessential organs? This I do not know) and reveling in the pain without ever passing out. It’s like yanking hairs from my head, one by one by one.

Basically, writing chapter one is torture for me, and I can’t make it stop. I can’t start anyone but chapter one—oh how I’ve tried to fool myself!—and I can’t get going until that first chapter is both written and pristine. I can more or less turn off my inner editor while writing the rest of my first draft, but not for that horrible, no-good, terrible chapter one. So I write and delete and repeat that process about seventy gazillion times.

That was me, the past two weeks. I have nine chapter ones saved in Scrivener. All suck but one. That one—on man, that one—I want to, I don’t know, buy it a beer or something. Because that chapter is the one. Will I change it during revisions? Yes. But it’s good enough that I can move on.

Here’s a quick, unedited excerpt that’s still not entirely right but at the moment right enough:
She spoke it aloud now, in the solitude of the cove. Her boots dug into the mossy ground and her head tilted to the sky and her teeth trapped the word at its end so she hissed like a snake. An unrestrained, unladylike laugh burst from deep in Asta’s belly. “Notorious,” she said again and again and it sounded a lot like “freedom.”
WHAT’S INSPIRING ME?

“Requiem for a Tower” from London Music Works puts me right into my fantasy story. It’s beautiful and epic and tense.


And while I can’t write to music with words, Phildel’s “The Wolf” has helped me get in the right mood before writing. 


WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO:
I bought a house. Yes, that happened. It doesn’t seem real, but it’s true. I am officially an adult. It’s actually the same condo we’ve been renting for the past two years, but now the bills come to us.

I truly love this place, though. It has soaring ceilings and old wood beams. It has windows twice as tall as me and exposed brick that I absolutely love. During the Industrial Revolution it housed giant looms and dozens of girls working in the textile factory. There’s a museum two floors below, which The Man still hasn’t visited and which I haven’t been to since my fifth grade field trip to the mills.

It’s all very strange, knowing I own this place. But I love it and, if I’m being completely honest, I love that the process of buying a house is over. Also, not having to move all of our junk into a new place seriously rocks.


What have you been up to?

* Speaking of Katniss, did you all see the trailer for part one of the Mockingjay movie? It is as fantastic as I expected.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ready, Set, Write: Kinda, Sorta Hitting Goals



Here’s the deal: Ready, Set, Write! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability. Plus, it provides an opportunity for writers to cheer each other on—whether they’re planning, drafting, revising, and/or polishing a story. The event is hosted by Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman.

HOW I DID ON LAST WEEK’S GOALS 
When I say “last week,” I mean “the last time I participated in RSW, which may or may not have been a week ago.” As of my last blog post, my goal was to start querying my sci-fi mystery WIP and world-build my fantasy WIP. Check and check.

Sort of.

I started querying, but only sent out two before I heard about Pitch Wars. I decided to give that a go, and am currently crossing my fingers my MS gets picked up. If not, it’s to the query trenches for me.

I’ve also been working my fantasy story, which is like nothing I’ve ever written before. I’m still a little totally and completely intimidated by creating an entirely new world, but it’s fun!

MY GOALS FOR THIS WEEK
Finish world-building this fantasy WIP idea. For reals this time.

A FAVORITE LINE FROM MY PROJECT OR A WORD/PHRASE THAT SUMS UP WHAT I WROTE/REVISED 
I haven’t begun writing the story yet, but as I was plotting, a scene came to me without warning. It’s between the two POV characters: a princess whose alter ego is the kingdom’s most fearsome thief and her personal guard, a knight also tasked by the king to find the thief and kill him. Here’s a piece of dialog from a scene late in the book, after the princess’ identity has been revealed.
“I admired you,” Galinn said. “I told myself that if I were to ever come upon this Black Thief, I’d ask him his secrets before I slit his throat.” 
Asta leaned in, the soft planes of her face made harsh in the flickering firelight. “And I told myself that if I happened upon my pursuer, I’d slit his throat and ask questions later.” 
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE I FACED THIS WEEK
This week my wrists were a bit sore, so I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked. And, I’ll be honest, work pretty much screeched to a halt as soon as I got my hands on Isla and the Happily Ever After, which I’ll review in another post. (Spoiler alert: I loved it.)

SOMETHING I LOVE ABOUT MY WIP
I love the idea of hidden identities. There’s a bit of a Mr. and Mrs. Smith thing going on between two of my POV characters, and I love the keeping of secrets and the big reveal. 

How’s your planning/writing/revising going?



Monday, August 4, 2014

Ready, Set ... Query!



Here’s the deal: Ready, Set, Write! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability. Plus, it provides an opportunity for writers to cheer each other on—whether they’re planning, drafting, revising, and/or polishing a story. The event is hosted by Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman.

HOW I DID ON LAST WEEK’S GOALS
I finally—finally—met my goals. It’s about time, right? As of today, my YA sci-fi mystery is finished. My query is polished. My agent list is updated. And my self-confidence is prepared for a major bruising. All is right with the world.

MY GOALS FOR THIS WEEK
I really only have two goals this week:

  • Commence the query process. (And the alcoholism I plan to take up during it.)
  • Continue the world-build on my fantasy WIP, which I put on hold while polishing my YA sci-fi mystery. 

A FAVORITE LINE FROM MY PROJECT OR A WORD/PHRASE THAT SUMS UP WHAT I WROTE/REVISED
My main character grew up in a sort of extended family made up of her father’s friends. In this final revision, I was fleshing out some of those side characters. This excerpt is part of a memory that I hope gets at the family dynamic:
We were waiting for a table at a busy Mexican restaurant when Reed made the grab. It was more of a pat, actually, but it didn’t matter. A loud voice boomed from behind us, “Nick, I believe that young miscreant just squeezed your daughter’s breast.” 
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE I FACED THIS WEEK
As always, doubt is my greatest enemy. I doubt my abilities in achieving what I need to during a revision. I doubt whether I should be revising a scene at all. Whether I should be revising it differently.

And as for compiling a list of agents to query, well, that’s like feasting on doubt pudding with little chocolate chips of uncertainty throughout. Do I query these agents first—or these? Is a more established agent with a large client list better than a less-experienced agent who will have more time for me? I’m pretty sure I spent an hour an a half fully insane during the process.

SOMETHING I LOVE ABOUT MY WIP
That it’s finished. Just kidding. (Mostly.)

I love the ending. The ending to this book came with the idea, and I’m happy I stuck with it through drafting and editing. It’s part of what made me love the premise in the first place.


How’s your planning/writing/revising going?